“Be content with what you have; rejoice in the way things are. When you realize there is nothing lacking, the whole world belongs to you.”
Hello My Saucy Souls!
I was out for a run yesterday and found myself getting melancholy about the losses autumn brings — dying flowers, falling leaves, a deep chill in the air, earlier darkness, heavier sombre clothing (yes, just call me Mary Sunshine! ; ) I was so caught up in this feeling of loss that I almost missed the tree filled with spectacular fuchsia-coloured leaves radiating in the sunbeam…a precious once-a-year sight to behold. Then, as soon as I stopped to breathe in this ephemeral delight, I also began to tune into the rich harvest smells of the fall, the gentle breeze in the air, and how the trees’ yellow leaves arching over the streets created a great golden cathedral above me. My energy felt expansive again.
This brought to mind the concept of what you focus on in life expands. I do believe it’s important to acknowledge and feel the pain of life, but always focusing on what’s bad or lacking creates a heavy energy that will keep you stuck in this painful, colourless place. However, when you begin to be passionately grateful for who you already are and what you already have, not only does the veil lift on all the abundance around you, the abundance is perpetuated. You see, fabulous people are drawn like magnets to those who radiate gratitude, and fabulous people bring fabulous opportunities with them.
I like to think of myself as a pretty appreciative person, but the truth is I struggle with gratitude. I’m a recovering perfectionist who can be so focused on what’s not done, what’s not good enough (including in myself), what’s lost, etc., that I am in constant danger of eclipsing what is right and good about myself, my life, and the world around me. That’s why I need to practice gratitude like my hair was on fire.
And practice I do… In the years of doing my daily centering exercises, the one tool that I consistently come back to is my gratitude list – 10-20 things I am grateful for in each day. My gratitudes range from little things (my fluffy warm robe fresh from the drier, the stranger who opened the door for me) to big things (having loving parents, my body’s mobility) to even some challenging things (the angry cashier who gave me an opportunity to practice tolerance and compassion today, missing the bus so I was forced to take a deep breath and collect my thoughts). When I’m in a good mood I find this list incredibly easy, but for those times of feeling tired, angry, sick, depressed, or very very alone, the gratitude utterly transforms my mood. Another awesome thing that happens with listing gratitudes daily? I start drinking in the blessings throughout my day instead of just passing them by to obsess on the deficits. As Melody Beattie says, “Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns chaos to order and confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend.”
Today I want to share with you some of the tools for tapping into the power of gratitude that I teach in my program and in my individual coaching. And while we’re talking gratitude, I want to share how deeply grateful I am that you have spent the time to connect with me here…it means the world to me.
And no, it’s not just the wine talking. ; )
“The happiest people don’t have the best of everything.
They just make the best of everything.”
– Author Unknown
6 Ways to Cultivate Gratitude
1. Gratitude Exchange – Start a tradition where you share with another/others your daily or weekly gratitudes. Maybe at bedtime you and your sweetie can list to each other 10 things you’re grateful from your day. Perhaps you end your weekly office meeting by having everybody share one thing you were grateful for in the workplace this week. Or, at dinner each night with the family, everyone could share a unique gratitude from their day.
2. Gratitude Alert – During your work hours set an hourly alert on your cell phone. When it goes off, stop, take a breath, and quickly identify 5 things to be grateful for in this very minute (from your cozy sweater to the laugh of a co-worker to the exhilarating project you’re working on). Breathe deeply into this.
3. “Where’s Waldo” Gratitude – When you feel yourself starting to get frustrated by a person today, look really hard to find some good there and ask these questions: What is unique or amazing about this person? Is there anything I can learn from them (even if it’s what not to do ; )? Can I appreciate what they might be experiencing and open my heart a little to them?
4. Gratitude Meditation – Seated (cross-legged if you can) with your back straight, open your arms widely to the sides and imagine the love and blessings of the world in the air. Powerfully gather them up with your arms and draw them into your center with a big inhale. Do this at least 15 times.
5. Spread the Gratitude – Every day share your appreciation for another with them. Thank the bus driver for being so chipper or write a short email to your Aunt thanking her for something she did for you as a kid that’s stuck with you. We don’t express our gratitude for others enough and it means so much to people (just think how it feels when people tell you how much they appreciate YOU)!
6. Self-Gratitude – Whenever you catch a reflection of yourself today, instead of critiquing and fixing, find something to be thankful for in that reflection. Send love and appreciation to that precious person in the mirror (make sure you wipe the kiss marks off the mirror in public bathrooms ; )
“If the only prayer you ever say in your entire life is ‘thank you’, it will be enough.”
– Meister Eckhart